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Motor vehicle injuries remain to be a leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2015, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died as passengers in motor vehicle crashes. A study found that in a span of a year, more than 600,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat, booster seat, or a seat belt. Aside from this, child restraint systems are often misused in such a way that their effectiveness is reduced.

Below are a few child car safety tips. It is important to heed the guidelines given by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); as well as your state’s respective car seat laws.

Backseat and backwards. Make sure that your child rides the backseat as it is the safest place in a car accident, especially if your car deploys airbags. Children must also remain rear-facing for as long as possible, or at least until they are 2, as they are five times safer riding rear-facing rather than forward facing. A seat that is rear-facing does a better job in supporting the head, neck, and spine of infants and toddlers during a crash.

Keep the straps snug. Straps that are properly secured do not cause pain, so do not loosen them despite your child’s protests. The harness should be adjusted in such a way that you can only slip one finger underneath the straps at your child’s chest. They should be tight enough that you cannot pinch the webbing between your thumb and fingers. The harness clip should be at the child’s armpit level.

Secure the belts. Make sure that all belts are tightly secured at are put in the correct slot. Whether rear or front facing, use the correct belt slots for each direction.

Booster seats when they reach 40. Forty pounds, that is. Until then, keep your child in a safety seat with a full harness. By the time your child weighs over 40 pounds, use a belt-positioning booster seat used with the adult lap and shoulder belt.

Everyone, buckle up. Make sure that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up. Otherwise, the unbuckled adults will pose a great risk to the children in case of a crash.  

Check your car seat’s age. They expire, too. Car seats are made of plastic, which gets brittle with age; and you need a safety seat that is strong enough to protect your child in case of a crash. A car seat’s lifespan is typically 6 to 8 years. Keep this in mind if you plan to use a hand-me-down car seat or buying a second-hand one.

No distracted driving, please. Do not use your phone or tend to any distractions while driving. Taking your eyes off the road for just a couple of seconds can potentially put your lives in danger. Drive free of distractions to ensure that your kids and everyone else’s kids are safe on the road.


Defective Car Seats

There are cases in which the car seats themselves put children in danger with defects such as weak construction, faulty handles, sudden releases, defective latches and buckles, flammable fabric, and weak frames, to name a few. In such cases, you can file a product liability suit against the manufacturer.

If your child has suffered injury or wrongful death due to a defective car seat, contact us at Hogan Injury for expert legal advice.

None of the content on is legal advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified lawyer. Please consult a legal professional for further information.

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